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technical descents



I'm determined to improve my cycling skill. Plan: Hill repeats, descending practice, longer endurance rides, better diet. The key to getting better on hills is to ride more hills, I know this. I love hills; as of today, long hills are my best friends. The key to better endurance is to ride longer, and the key to speed is intervals. All of that is self explanatory.
Technical descending, on the other hand, particularly on dirt, is nerve racking for me. I feel much better climbing out of camp on the two mile downhill pipeline that actually going downhill on it. I know to relax, keep my arms and legs bent or flexed, my arse off the seat, and my brain focused so I can control the bike. Anyone else have any tips? Is there a secret potion I can find and drink to make me a better downhiller?
I'm by no means very knowledgeable about mtb-ing, but I remember a few tips I read once that help me on descents (of course, I am from flatland Chicago, so everything is relative).

-Besides keeping your arms and legs loose, loosen up on the handlebars. I used to hold them in such a death-grip that my arms and elbows would inadvertently tighten up. Focusing on the grip helped solved that problem for me.

-Don't scrub speed in the rough sections - you tend to lose your balance. Scrub it in the smooth part of the trail before you get to the rough stuff - you can still control everything easier there.

-Very much like skiing moguls, look down the hill a bunch and pick your line and don't panic. Don't look at the rock in front of you, look at the ones 40 feet down.

-Commit to that line - don't bail or slam on the brakes or risk and endo or worse (this is hardest for me to do as my mind keeps second guessing itself).
I think I ride the back brake a little too much, trying to fix that. I'm trying to make the leap from a low end hardtail to a full suspension race bike, and it's fun; although it may be a little too fast for me. I'm hoping to grow into it soon enough, and my brain keeps telling me that the bike is going to go where I tell it. I'm thinking it may be 60% mental, 10% lack of confidence, and 30% lack of technique. It's my "holy grail" skill, I guess. Thanks for the tips. Anything is useful right now, as I am becoming a little frustrated with myself. I know it's holding my riding back an entire level, and forcing me to lose momentum.
It'll all click one day. Mtb is like skiing IMO - all of a sudden it all comes together.

Like I said, these worked for me, albeit in Chicago. It's a matter of degrees....I'm pretty sure you and JP would kick my ass in mtbing. I would hope I could take you guys on the road though.